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Culture clash cripples digital business

CIOs urged to work with HR to help staff take on new working practices that support digital transformation initiatives

More than half of digital initiatives fail because of people’s inability to adapt to new working practices, a study from Gartner has found.

In the analyst’s Predicts 2019: Leadership means expanding options not limiting them report, Gartner chief of research Daryl Plummer wrote: “The mystery of the unknown future implies an expectation that events will occur in their own time. But we must be aware that we must act in our own time.

“This means a trend toward discovering that our own tolerance for innovation and change must be cultivated. This trend will be shaped by our ability to identify new opportunities, while at the same time establishing a view that is appropriate to our own success.”

Gartner estimated that 50% of transformational initiatives will fail because of culture barriers. Christie Struckman, a research vice-president at the analyst, said: “The logical conclusion is that CIOs should start with culture change when they embark on digital transformation, not wait to address it later.”

Gartner predicted that by 2021, 80% of midsize to large enterprises will have changed their culture to accelerate their digital transformation strategy.

Organisations also need better decisions to be made quickly, ideally at the front line, it said. To achieve this objective, teams must comprise multidisciplinary, diverse members with the autonomy and accountability to act and to realise financial targets. Gartner’s research also found that inclusion can improve performance by more than 30% in diverse teams.

The analyst found that because CIOs have already gained a lot of experience with agile development and product teams working together, they can champion empowerment behaviours. It urged IT departments to partner with HR to set up programmes to monitor, measure and enhance inclusion.

Gartner said the partnership between IT and HR can shed light on how IT can make technology and process design decisions that help to achieve the desired organisational culture. The enterprise architecture can adopt principles that align to cultural traits, and when business analysts design processes, they can create them with the intended traits in mind, it added.

Elise Olding, research vice-president at Gartner, said: “A lot of CIOs have realised that culture can be an accelerator of digital transformation and that they have the means to reinforce a desired culture through their technology choices.”

Read more about culture change

  • Digital transformation has been in vogue in recent years. Success depends as much, if not more, on deep-set culture change, as RSA and The Economist Group have discovered.
  • Gartner CIO survey shows digital business is changing mindsets and culture at organisations that are successful in transformation.

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